The June 1936 simultaneous commissioning of Campbell, Duane, Ingham and Taney at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: 327-foot Secretary Class Cutters “the ships that wouldn’t die”

The Secretary-class cutters proved very dependable, versatile and long-lived warships. They became the backbone of the Coast Guard’s high-endurance cutter fleet after World War II and served as maritime workhorses performing all of the missions demanded of high seas cutters.


Petty Officer Second Class Paul F. Floge, a Coast Guard reservist with Coast Guard Port Security Unit 311 out of San Pedro, Calif., provides security with a .50 caliber machine gun on the Khawr al Amaya oil terminal off the coast of Iraq. Flodge, who works full time for the Los Angeles Police Department, is one of many reservists called to active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Coast Guard demonstrated the importance of a naval force experienced in shallow-water operations, maritime interdiction operations, port security and aids to navigation work. The port security units performed their port security duties efficiently in spite of their units being divided between three separate port facilities and two oil terminals. Patrol boats operated for countless hours without maintenance in waters too shallow for Navy assets and served as the Coalition fleet’s workhorses in boarding, escort and force protection duties. OIF was just one of the many combat operations fought by the Coast Guard since 1790 and its heroes are among the many members of the long blue line.


Painting commissioned of Revenue Cutter McCulloch when it first set sail in 1897. U.S. Coast Guard Academy collection.

The Long Blue Line: McCulloch — fighting cutter of Manila Bay

During the ship’s 20-year career, McCulloch performed the missions of search and rescue, ice operations, law enforcement, environmental protection, humanitarian relief and maritime defense. The ship recorded many firsts, such as the first cutter to steam through the Mediterranean and Red seas, transit the Suez Canal, and visit the Far East by way of the Indian Ocean. In addition, its West Coast cruising territory extended from the Arctic and Alaska to southern California. Cutter McCulloch and the men who sailed it remain a part of the legend and the lore of the long blue line.


In 2009, members of LEDET 409 detained suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 151. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: LEDETs – 35 years of law enforcement missions

Since 1982, LEDETs have evolved from a counterdrug unit under local Coast Guard command, to one of the service’s modern Deployable Specialized Forces with a global area of responsibility. Over the course of their history, the LEDETs’ role has expanded to carry out a variety of maritime interdiction missions, including counter-piracy, military combat operations, alien migration interdiction, military force protection, counter terrorism, homeland security, and humanitarian response. The LEDETs and their law enforcement mission form one more link in the long blue line.


Maritime Security and Response Team members deployed in a special rigid-hull inflatable patrol boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: MSSTs and MSRTs—forged in the crucible of 9/11

With the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the War on Terror set in motion dramatic changes to the Coast Guard. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, U.S. ports, waterways, and coastlines were protected primarily by Coast Guard boat stations and cutters. Immediately following September 11, Coast Guard resources were reallocated to fill the additional maritime security functions required in a post-9/11 environment. A variety of new units, like the MSSTs and MSRTs, emerged as part of the Coast Guard’s greatest organizational transformation since World War II.


The 82-foot patrol boat Point Cypress in camouflage paint scheme in Vietnam. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard joined the fight in Vietnam over 50 years ago

Today, over 50 years after the service joined the fight in Vietnam, we commemorate the Coast Guardsmen who went in harm’s way, several of whom paid with their lives in a land far from home shores. In all, 8,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Vietnam. Their efforts curtailed maritime smuggling and enemy infiltration, saved hundreds of lives, and proved vital to the war effort in Vietnam.


Cutter Escanaba breaks ice early in its career on the Great Lakes. U.S. Coast Guard Collection.

The Long Blue Line: 75 years ago – Escanaba rescues hundreds then perishes

Following a U-boat attack of the passenger steamer Cherokee, Lt. Robert “Bob” Prause, Jr., developed a cold-water rescue system of tethered rescue swimmers equipped with rubber exposure suits. These came in handy later when the U.S. Army Transport Dorchester was hit by a torpedo in icy waters between Newfoundland and Greenland in 1943. Prause’s system was one of the Coast Guard’s first successful cold-water rescue methods.


On Sept. 12, 1944, the liberty ship George Ade was torpedoed off Cape Hatteras, N.C., by German Sub U-518. Coast Guard Cutters Jackson and Bedloe were sent out on a rescue mission during a hurricane. The mission ended with the loss of both cutters, including 21 of 22 officers and enlisted personnel. This painting is dedicated to these men. Painting by Louis Barberis.

The Long Blue Line: Jackson’s battle with the rogue waves of ’44

Hurricane season is upon us and while landfall devastation is a major concern, the waves made in the ocean prove themselves to be just as dangerous. The Coast Guard Cutters Jackson and Bedloe both lost the fight against rogue waves created in the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944. These crews will be remembered as part of the service’s long blue line for years to come.


An APD deploying a Higgins Boats. Given the “Dixie Cup” white hats worn by the Coast Guard crew, this photo was likely shot during practice operations before the combat landings on Tulagi Island. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Douglas Denman – Silver Star Bosun of USS Colhoun

Douglas Denman was one of many combat heroes who have served in the long blue line. Denman received the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for his heroism in saving countless shipmates after Japanese bombers struck the USS Edmund Colhoun near Guadalcanal during World War II. The Coast Guard is proud to honor him with his namesake as one of the new fast response cutters.


A rare photo showing Asian personnel aboard Cutter Bear. These men began to serve on West Coast cutters immediately after the Civil War. (Coast Guard Collection)

The Long Blue Line: Asian-American history of the Coast Guard

For over 165 years, thousands of ethnically Asian men and women have served with distinction in the U.S. Coast Guard. They have been diligent members of the long blue line and they will play an important role in shaping the service in the 21st century.


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